Tourists

Self-Isolation Blues

Well, that’s not entirely true.  While we are staying home as much as possible, we do have a family to feed. So that means trips to the grocery store every few days.  I would prefer not to have to go as often as we are, but the lack of goods on the shelves, and the fact that we are not hoarders, requires multiple trips.  Our local grocer has absolutely no paper goods for the last week.  No paper towels, napkins, nor toilet paper.  I know this is, sadly, becoming very common.  The meat counter has been rather empty as well. But we will survive.

Just in case you missed this post, the reason we are self-isolating is we did go on a cruise about 10 days ago.  It was just a short three day to the Bahamas and back. The ship is set for 4000 guests. I doubt there were 1400 people aboard. My high school had more people. Hell, my graduating class was almost 1000 people!

Our view upon boarding the ship, The Mariner Of The Seas.

We almost didn’t get far on the cruise. They were discussing making the ship dock in Miami and everyone would have had to get off. In the end they let all the ships that left that day go anyway.  They did announce that we would be the last cruise for a month. The major cruise lines all canceled scheduled cruises until about 15 April.

The main reason we took the cruise was to take the girls to another country. It was their spring break, which made it a great time to go. But then this virus hit.  We did take a gamble, but it seems to be fine. I have been taking everyone’s temperature twice a day since we returned. No fevers, no (unusual) coughing or sneezing. I also have not heard of any of the ship’s crew testing positive either.  But I did call and postpone all doctor appointments and such.

The cruise itself was very nice. The girls made friends with other kids. They did not want to do any of the kid’s activities that were offered. They had much more fun just hanging at the pools and snacking just about all day.  I have to say they were very cognizant of washing their hands and using the hand sanitizer stations. I don’t think they passed a hand sanitizer without using it. I was very happy.

Virus? What virus?

Here’s a video that may actually be relevant for once!

Peace,
B

Twitter Instagram FaceBook

What Is He Thinking?

Here I am just two months or so removed from a wonderful ten-day ICU stay (you can read about that here) and what are we doing? Taking Son-The-Younger and his two girls on a short cruise!  Just what the hell am I thinking??? COVID-19 is running rampant across the globe and I’m just waltzing right in.  Plus, we now have a confirmed case of the virus locally.

It may seem that the virus is targeting cruise ships. But I think it’s more of a “captive audience” type of thing. Let’s face it, you have thousands of folks miles from land all stuck together like sardines. It’s a petri dish blissfully floating out on the water.

Now, this is a short three-day cruise. Just out to the Bahamas and back. Nothing spectacular. Since it is a short cruise I don’t think it will attract the “jet set” travelers. I just don’t see anyone that’s been in any of the hot zones around the world joining us on this little adventure. My main concern is the crew. This will be Wifey and my fifth cruise (the first for the kids) and we love the international flavor of the crews. But that does pose a greater risk of having someone that has been in a hot zone being on board.

We must trust that the cruise line (Royal Caribbean in this case) will live up to their promises of greater sanitation for most areas on the ship, more hand sanitation stations, and better screening of crew and passengers prior to boarding. They have also stated that the fees for medical screening/care of anyone complaining of most “flu like” symptoms will be waived for the duration of the trip. They appear to have an expanded quarantine area ready, just in case.

Naturally the CDC has called for the elderly and those with compromised respiratory systems (and I fit at least one of those categories, maybe both depending on who you ask), to avoid travel “especially cruises”.  Yeah… right.  I never was one to listen to authority. There is a chance that I could be denied boarding. If I have a fever (which I haven’t since that hospital stay), or if my constant coughing is deemed to be a problem. 

We are leaving on that most auspicious of days, Friday the 13th! So what could go wrong? It is spring break for the girls as well.

They say the virus can be killed with a greater than 60% alcohol solution. I’m sure one of the bars on board will have something that’s 120 proof or higher. Plus, we can use this as a warm-up for “Amateur Drinking Day #2” St. Patrick’s Day.

So, watch this space. Wifey may be handling a post soon while I’m in quarantine, or worse. I’m confident that all will turn out well and I will have pictures to post next week. Now please excuse me, as I must prepare for this trip. By which I mean the single malt is calling my name!

Here is today’s almost related video.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

Twitter Instagram FaceBook

Scotland Or Bust!!

Ah, Scotland! The land of bagpipes, majestic highlands, Nessie, wonderful single malt scotches (the nectar of the Gods), and haggis.  Well, the jury is still out on haggis. I will give it a taste while we’re there, but I’m not really expecting much.

Wifey® and I have booked an 8 day, 7 night bus tour for May 2019. This has been a long drawn out process fraught with perils. We started looking at a Scotland trip several years ago but just could not get the time and funds to match. Seems when we had the money saved up, something came up (like the clutch in my truck blowing up), or when we had time off from work we didn’t have the money.

So fast forward to July of this year. Wifey’s® father had passed away and she and her brothers and finally closed on selling his house. And that would be a whole ‘nother post. What a fiasco that was! We had been vacillating between buying an RV and finally making a trip to Scotland since both of our families are of Scots descent. After several visits to various RV places in and around our home, we were just about set on the RV.  When one Friday evening it all changed. We really didn’t want to spend all the money Wifey® received from her share of the house “all in one place”. So that made the decision much easier.

I immediately contacted the agency we’ve been talking to over that last couple of years to get updated tour dates and prices. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we decided on which tour we wanted.

The agency we were using is Exploring Vacations, based out of Ireland. They have a New Jersey phone number, but I think it routes back to Ireland as everyone we’ve ever talked to has a most beautiful accent.

On July 31st we made our deposit. It’s really happening! This began the process of getting everything together. We had to renew our passports (a surprisingly easy process), start buying all the “little things”, like a power converter, RFID blocking passport wallets, pillows and eye masks for the overnight flight. OH! Wait! We need airline tickets too. That means days and days of watching Priceline, Kayak, Booking, Orbitz etc…

Then on August 28th, we made the decision to pay off the tour completely.  That proved to be a very wise move. Because on September 14th, I received this email;

email1

Suddenly, we were not sure our trip would happen. Needless to say, my heart just about jumped out of my chest. That RV was looking better and better. I told Wifey® to call the credit card company we used to see if there was anything we needed to do so we wouldn’t lose all of what we paid.  But when she looked at the website for the card, she saw that we didn’t pay Exploring Vacations, we paid directly to the actual tour company, CIE Tours International! A glimmer of hope appeared. And sure enough, when I open the PAID IN FULL invoice, it’s from CIE Tours! CIE is also based out of Ireland, and also has a New Jersey phone number. You know I’m calling as quick as my shaking hands can dial.

While I’m waiting for someone to answer I tweet this;

tweet1

A lovely sounding lass “Alli” is the representative I get to talk to (with an amazing accent too!).  I explain the situation to Alli, but she doesn’t know about Exploring Vacations going out of business. Heart rate is starting to go up again. She sends me to a supervisor, Ernesto. Ernesto is either in New Jersey or is from there, he has an entirely different accent than Alli. But right now I really don’t care where I’m calling as long as someone can tell me what’s going on.

Turns out Ernesto is on the ball. He can find our tour and yes, we are PAID IN FULL! Ernesto takes care of the transfers to and from the airport and hotels since that was one step we didn’t get to finish (at no cost!). The only issue he sees it that our tour is reserved under the Exploring Vacations name and not ours. He says that is a minor issue as the receipt has our names.

One thing that amazes me about this entire deal is that Exploring Vacations has been in contact throughout. As much heartburn and stress this situation has caused us, the fact that they emailed me to tell me what’s going on and have answered every email I have sent with questions says that this was a solid company. It also says a lot about corporate America. If this had been an American company we would only find out that they went bankrupt when a letter showed up, or we tried to call and found the phone disconnected.

email2

The email that allowed me to sleep again

We still have lots of stuff to procure for this trip. We need real raincoats (or should I say a “mac”?), more clothes, luggage, and exchange currency.  But we have time.  I’ll post more about the trip as things get settled. The itinerary is not finalized yet but should be by the end of the month.

Tell me your travel horror stories!!

Peace,
B

Twitter  FaceBook

P.S. Samhain is getting close!!